Your paint project: 10 Tips for choosing colors

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Finally, it’s time to choose the colors. Well, maybe it’s not “Finally”—maybe that was actually your first thought!

It often happens that I’m called to help with a color palette when “the painters are coming next week!”
While crisis-mode color selection is not optimal, it’s certainly possible to do. But your color choices deserve your best attention since it’s color that sets the tone for your entire space.

If you have time to give your color selections adequate consideration, it will be to your advantage. Even if you intend to use the services of a color consultant it will be helpful to your final decision-making to really be aware of your space in some ways you might not have considered before.

1. Where to start?

  • Dream in color, starting in a smaller space such as a Bathroom, Hallway, or Accent Wall.
  • Begin where you are most comfortable. Select a favorite color, drawn from artwork, rug, china, accessory or furniture, as main color or accent.
    Wall color relates to the bright green design lines in LOOPY/Soft Tide: Silk Road Weaves – Tibetan Rugs

    Color design and photo: B.Jacobs

2.  Think mood, listen to the space
Choose your color according to the purpose of the space, for example:

  • Bedroom:  restful, soothing, dramatic or intimate
  • Dining area: sociable, stimulating
  • Library/study: quiet, peaceful concentration

image courtesy Ellen Kennon

3.  How about a complement?
Check out a color wheel, and enhance your main color choice with contrast

image courtesy Ellen Kennon

4.  Monochromatic, maybe?  Emphasize the architecture

  • Achieve bold or subtle variations within one color group.
  • Use low-contrast color variations in any room.
  • Contrast use of paint finishes to make an elegant statement.

    image courtesy Ellen Kennon

For example: use closely related colors, or even a single color in different finishes, for walls and trim—and maybe even the ceiling.  HUE consulting has some interesting trend notes about this.

5.  Make white the accent color
Even in a guest bathroom  you can create variety with elegant neutrals as the main color.

Color design and photo: B.Jacobs

6.  Looking up, tint your ceiling!

  • Add drama with a stronger color, a similar-tone color in a different hue, or
  • Make the ceiling the same color as the walls, for the feeling of a more expansive space.

    image courtesy Ellen Kennon

7.  Testing 1…2…3…Try Something Different

  • Consider strong colors or soft, deep earthy hues like chocolate brown or olive green as main or accent colors.
  • Be sure to test colors by rolling 2 coats on primed poster board or large areas of actual wall.

    Color design and photo: B.Jacobs

Color design and photo: B.Jacobs

Another idea with a little drama: Silk Road Plum in the kitchen, and note the accent color “Jaunty Jen” that makes a visual connection to the adjacent office

8.  What’s missing? Add interest and depth of color

  • Flat, dull walls become interesting and personal with subtle or dramatic  “Visual Texture” and “Broken Color.”
  • “DEPTH” does not have to mean “DARK!”
  • Burnished mineral/metal finishes and colored glazes add depth and interest.
  • For example: Mica, Copper, Pewter, Bronze, and of course Silver and Gold
  • Accent areas are the perfect place for a special finish to create focus in a space.

    Venetian Plaster and photo by B.Jacobs

9.  Still wondering?
Review your comfort zone and expand it, taking note of your response to your favorite colors.

10.  To avoid confusion
Try to keep others’ opinions to a minimum. REMEMBER, It’s YOUR home!

11. “bonus tip”
Check out this recent New York Times article on test results for Low V.O.C. Paints!
Thanks to Ellen Kennon for providing images for my use.

There’s more…you can read this Color Tips article in its entirety on

2 Responses to “Your paint project: 10 Tips for choosing colors”

  1. Marie

    Congrats on the HGTV article! Great tips and I always remind clients about #10-it’s their space and the outcome HAS to please their eye.


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